Tag Archives: espionage

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 5

mole

2 Wilderness Row
Milk Felling
TRACKLESHIRE TR2 4PN

March 31 1997

Your letter moved me Harriet, more than I can say. I have thought long and hard about my advice and it is this: find out the truth. Once you know that, I may be able to offer further assistance. In truth, your missive reminds me of the time I was a young mother (Austen was only two) living in our country seat in Martonshire. I won’t go into what happened then because it might be completely different to what may be happening to yourself. We will see.

Here at Wilderness Row, one puzzling event has been the advent of a note – clad in a home-made envelope – which appeared on the door mat yesterday morning. It was from my glass-clanking neighbour, resident next door. This lady – for it is a lady going by the name of one Miriam – seemed to be asking me to go along next door to feed and clean out her foster cat, Basher, who is apparently whiling away his days in a wire and wood premises located in her garden. (Loud bursts of howling have been emanating from that direction in recent days.) Miriam wrote that she had had an urgent call to attend a sick relative in the town of Carter-in-the-Woods and would be back by the end of next week. That is nearly seven days away dear! In return, Miriam is promising a magnificent feast and several demijohns of her home-made cider . . . She then went on to explain that she had left a fencing helmet and leather gauntlets outside Basher’s pen and that I was certainly best advised to outfit myself in them, before opening the door! Also that, should I acquire puncture wounds of any description on any part of my person, I should immerse the affected part in any available alcohol for as long as I can bear. Basher does give some slight warning of an impending attack apparently: he narrows his eyes. I don’t know pet. Perhaps even the appearance of Carstairs, bearing a club hammer in his glove, might be preferable to the scenario described in this note!

Well, naturally, I had a stiff nip of something fortifying – in addition to partaking of actual breakfast – as a way of preparing myself for this task. And then, clad in several layers of clothing, I arrived at the exterior of Basher’s pen. These premises are equipped with two exterior doors (wired and bolted) and the purpose seems to be to allow a visitor through one door, bolt it, and then proceed through the next door without any possibility of the inmate exiting into the local countryside! I couldn’t find the fencing helmet anywhere – just a pair of stout gloves – and I came to the conclusion that perhaps Miriam was joking. What do you think dear? I couldn’t see Basher at this point and my main impression was that I was actually surrounded by a rather eerie silence. An armchair – piled with magazines and newspapers – resided in the covered walkway leading to an elevated wooden compartment and, since there was nowhere else to be, I had to assume that Basher was inside it. I hovered, Harriet . . . And then I decided to sit down and leaf through the magazines; after all, poking one’s nose into someone’s darkened, private, bedding space hardly seemed the wisest, or the most tactful, method of approach. I thought perhaps that I would attend to any feeding/cleaning out activities after a decent period of mutual (if invisible) acquaintance. Well the magazines, containing all sorts of colourful photographs of sterling work in local gardens, were quite relaxing – not to say soporific – in their effect and I started to feel my eyelidsd droop a little. In fact, they drooped so much that I believe I was soon fast asleep! (It has been hard to relax in my own demesne owing to one or two springs – rusty – poking through the mattress on the downstairs sofa.)

When I woke up, after God knows how many minutes had expired, it was to a quite unusual sensation. Someone, or something, appeared to be applying a rasping pink tongue to my face and nose and, do you know dear, an actual paw was resting on my shoulders. I cracked open an eyeball and, opposite mine, was a yellow iris with a vertically-extending black pupil. Basher was engaged in the act of washing my face – and doing a very thorough job of it I must say. I naturally thought it prudent not to move a muscle for I have read that a damaged cat’s emotions can turn on a sixpence. I kept my hands to myself and my eyes closed. And then, after five minutes or so, I felt something curl up on my knees and soon Basher himself was snoring on my lap with his eyes shut. This keeping yourself to yourself certainly seems to work with a cat like this and I did, eventually, succeed in both putting food in his bowl and cleaning out his litter tray – emerging unscathed in the process.

I must say that I am hoping I will hear from Sergeant Blackstone (of the Inner Hamlet cop shop) today as it sounds like progress is being made towards the capture and arrest of Carstairs. And once that occurs, I will be able to return to Forsythia Grove! I am rather missing this latter demesne dear; life is so much easier when one doesn’t have to drag water up from a well and engage in making paper firelighters!

Chin up now darling

Mum (in law)

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Air of intoxication . . . (episode 4)

3A Hyde Park Terrace

LONDON  W2 5PH

March 30 1997

Dear mum (in law)

Austen has told me that you have surfaced and are asking after me.  I’m not too bad.  I left the alcohol rehabilitation centre last year and the antidepressants the doctor has given me are helping (I think).  I did want to start having a hobby (as you suggested at the time) and thought I might start keeping budgerigars in an outside aviary.  However, Austen feels that there will be nobody to look after them when we go on holiday.  I don’t know when we last went on holiday.  You know how good he is at getting his own way.  It’s no good challenging him because he stops being endearing and lovable and becomes very cold (and sometimes angry).  Just recently he has started leaving home punctually at 7.40am for his walk across Hyde Park to the House of Commons.  He never used to leave so early (or on time).  Also he is sporting a sudden air of intoxication.  I don’t know what’s behind this.  I just know that I feel miserable.  What do you think I should do?

Yours loving daughter (in law)

Harriet

A satisfied crocodile . . . (episode 3)

mole

2 Wilderness Row
Milk Felling
TRACKLESHIRE TR4 2PN

March 29 1997

Dear Austen

I think I glimpsed you on television’s ‘Parliamentary Channel’ yesterday child?  Parliament was debating fuel poverty in Martonshire and there you were – as MP for Middle Bit (south) – remarking upon the fact that some colliery towns in the 1970’s had refused to have mains gas supplied to their environs, owing to their loyalty to a local mine.  Of course, it was difficult to focus full attentions on your remarks owing to the intermittent snowy blizzard appearing on the black-and-white TV here and the fact that the screen kept revolving like a barrel on the roll.  I think this must be an errant ‘vertical hold’ control – a problem long since vanished from most television screens by the 1990’s.  However, despite the obscuring nature of the technology I was viewing, it did appear that you yourself rolled back in your seat in quite some state of somnolence.  It does tend to be a mistake to engage in the munching of creamy repasts and port in your club during luncheon, if I may suggest it pet?  Remember that the whole nation may be able to survey your closed eyelids, on screen, in this day and age and will not be admiring of any individual seated with the air of a satisfied crocodile on the back row!

I am penning today’s epistle because I am wondering if you would care to come over next week and partake of luncheon?  I am presently situated only 20 miles from the borders of your constituency (I presume you do attend the occasional surgery darling?) and so this should not be too inconvenient.  And, actually child, could you perhaps pack a hamper to bring with you?   My palate positively waters at the thought of savouring delicacies the like of which I may not have enjoyed since poor Pom-Pom lavished most of my MI6 pension ‘lump sum’ on the horses!  A hamper would additionally be most welcome as I am in-between post-retirement commissions – requiring use of my special licence – and funds are short.

Meanwhile, another day has dawned here at Wilderness Row and I have finally worked out how to successfully light the fires!  The not-so-seasoned Ash logs (split) are stashed in a sort of stone bothy at the back of the cottage, together with some kindling which resides in a basket.  Although the stone slate roof of this habitation seems to be intact, the interior (door-less) is dark and feels distinctly damp.  I have lumbered indoors now with several wheelbarrow loads of logs and these are presently steaming in front of the fire.  It helped a great deal, I must say, that I recollected my great aunt May’s instructions on how to origami firelighters out of sheets of newspapers and that the chimney appears to be open at the top!

Thank you for relaying the news of my recent resurrection to Harriet by the way.  I may write to her as I have some (feline) news which I know will not be of the slightest interest to yourself!

Best

Mother

The water well . . . (episode 2)

mole

2 Wilderness Row
Milk Felling
TRACKLESHIRE TR2 4PN

March 25 1997

My Dear Austen

Thank you for your phone call yesterday evening child; it is some time since I have heard your bell-like tones chiming down the telephone cable.  I do wonder, however, at the reason behind your communication – as it is unlike you to engage in any completely selfless activity.  I think you may have been investigating my knowledge of your deceased father’s former contacts, with a view to securing personal advantage of some kind?  But, as you should know by now dear, I was always a very different animal to Sir Charmer Tankful OBE – and had very little to do with his activities in the sphere of golf, bridge, drinking, hunting and womanizing (especially the latter).  In fact, I developed quite my own, separate, group of friends and acquaintances – many of whom are quite indigent.  I actually don’t quite know what I’m doing on this antiquated computer here at Wilderness Row and hope my musings will be legible in your home at Hyde Park Terrace?

Meanwhile, I have been making one or two discoveries about my new domain.  One of my first surprises (not a very welcome one) was that the toilet facilities are situated some 20m beyond the back door near the end of the garden.  I did investigate this shack at my earliest ‘convenience’ and, seated upon a rough plank in the near-dark, I could discern (from the actual stench, forgive me darling) and from the fact that my nether regions appeared to be nearly lapping upon the ‘waters’ beneath, that effluent must drop into a cess pit – and that this facility requires emptying. My other – rather mortifying – find has been that water (for all functions) has to be lifted from a water well, also situated in the back garden.  This item has a waist high stone wall, arranged in the usual round, and a tiled roof from which the bucket is lowered, and raised, via a rope wound around a horizontal rail.  One winds a handle dear, in order to accomplish all this bucket rising and falling.  Gazing into the depths, I could initially only discern blackness and it was only by dint of dropping a half-red-brick over the side, that I could confirm that water was actually present at the bottom. Wild ginger seems to be the plant growing from the inside of the walls, near the apex, and its leaves are round and green and juicy.  I must remember pet, to keep the wooden lid in place on this facility after use, as it might be rather depressing to lose Chumley into its interior and to have to winch him out in the bucket.

It was positively a relief to retire to my bed yesterday evening – at the somewhat early hour of 10pm – I can tell you.  However, the bed at Wilderness Row does feel somewaht cramped compared to its king-sized counterpart back at Forsythia Grove.  Chumley, Meribel and myself seemed to be practically reclining nostril to nostril and my nostrils were, in particular, stuffed with recumbent furry posteriors as we turned throughout the night.  Sleep did not come easily as I could detect some strange sounds coming from the cottage next door.  These took the form of heavy glass clankings and then, periodically, a thump as if something even heavier had collided with the floor.  And I do believe I heard what might have been a burp!

In any event, dawn eventually came drilling through the window glass in the form of a continuous thumping sound.  When I rose to investigate, I could clearly see – without the aid of binoculars – that a lesser-spotted woodpecker was fastened to the trunk of an apple tree outside and rapping its beak against the bark.  I don’t know child.  I suppose I should consider myself fortunate that it wasn’t a cockerel crowing at 4am or a row of heavy freight rail trucks rattling past.  And also that I am still (miraculously) alive and able to enjoy a new day’s life – with its perennially attendant issues – at all!

Do give my love to Harriet won’t you?   I have heard nothing from her in recent years and hope she has moved beyond that phase where she, too, appeared to be engaged in – hidden – heavy drinking,  and the constant watching of day-time TV.   I am not at all sure what lay behind this domestic behaviour child, and earnestly hope that your own attitudes and behaviour had nothing to do with it?

Best

Mother

Flown the coop . . . (episode 1)

mole

March 23 1997

2 Wilderness Row
Milk Felling
TRACKLESHIRE TR2 4PN

My Dear Austen

I know I haven’t written for quite some years child, but Ralph has disappeared (possibly abducted by some far-right political group) and, as it is largely silent here in my new – albeit temporary demesne – I find my thoughts turning, once again, to you. You are so close, after all, in the geographical sense at least.

I must say that I am very grateful to Sebastian for his suggestion that I might replenish my funds (which are scraping very low at the bottom of the barrel) by spending a week or so engaged in scrub clearance in the grounds of one of his deserted dwelling up here in Middle Bit. The journey could have been more commodious, certainly, as Chumley, Meribel, and myself were crammed together tightly inside the Banger 0.9L. Indeed, there was barely room for my collapsible brush cutter, petrol-powered hedge trimmer, and Dave Bear ride-on mower.

I hope, by the way, that you are flourishing in Westminster and have escaped further scrutiny of your extra-parliamentary activities? So many nowadays seem to have been found out in their abuse of expenses claims and in pursuits involving lying and cheating on their partners and the state in general. I might also add that such individuals tend, by and large, to be male. What causes the male, in particular dear, to tend to the weak, the arrogant, and the empty? Have I – as your mother – been to blame for this in any particular way do you think? Did I encourage you in the view that beauty and charm were sufficient endowments in and of themselves? And that it was not necessary to develop content and character of a decent kind?
I wish that I didn’t feel that you will simply sneer at – and ignore – any depth of analysis of the human self my darling. But as I feel that you will, I will move on. I will move on now.

Wilderness Row is, I must say, most aptly named. I am occupying the end of a small row of what do appear to be quite dilapidated stone cottages with gardens in various states of disrepair. I had to practically hack my way up the front path with the knife which – as is my usual practice – I customarily keep nestled against my inner thigh. And, once inside, I had to remove quite some considerable quantities of cobwebs in order to be able to see through the windows. The windows are small dear and it is not possible to open them – for the glass seems sealed shut by many layers of paint. My heart did, also, sink somewhat as I came to realize that the only heating comes from fires which have to be laid, and lit, with what I hope is a supply of seasoned logs located outside somewhere. There is no washing machine – only a rather rusty-looking bath tub – and the electric cooker has knobs on it which do not feature numerals of any kind. Nor, for that matter, are there any markings denoting which knob heats which hot plate. I have thrown the electricity supply switch however and the lights – the ones with bulbs in the sockets – do appear to work. And there is a single bed, complete with mattress, which did not collapse when I sat on it. At least dear, I will not be bored during my sojourn at Wilderness Row because there are plenty of domestic matters I shall need to attend to!

I do feel most envious now of your own premises which, as I recall, are luxuriously equipped with sixteen radiators and actual central heating!

Best

Mother